20 Feb 2023 10:29

Russia might enshrine govt's right to stop publication of statistics in law

MOSCOW. Feb 20 (Interfax) - Russian legislators have proposed to enshrine in law the government's right to temporarily suspend the release and dissemination of official statistical information in the country.

A bill to amend the law on official statistical reporting, authored by a group of State Duma members led by Duma Economic Policy Committee Chairman Maxim Topilin, has been approved by this committee and is scheduled to be considered at the lower house of parliament's plenary session on February 22.

Under current law, official statistical information is open to the public and can be provided to interested users or distributed publicly. However, there is an exception for information to which access is restricted by federal laws, meaning statistical information protected by the law on bank secrets, commercial secrets and tax secrets, or by doctor-patient and attorney-client privilege.

The changes proposed by the new bill give the government the right to restrict access to the data of the Federal Statistics Service (Rosstat) at its own discretion. "The particulars of access to official statistical information, including as regards temporary suspension of its presentation and dissemination, can be established by decisions of the RF government on updating (revising) the federal plan for statistical work," the bill states.

The federal plan for statistical work, which is posted on Rosstat's website, includes the results of the national population census; the results of continuous monitoring of the activities of small and medium businesses; GDP in current and constant prices; the index of production of goods and services by primary types of economic activity; balances of food and commodity resources; fuel and energy balances; information about consumption of food staples and so on.

In April 2022, the Federal Customs Service announced that it would temporarily suspend publication of data on imports and exports in order to avoid incorrect estimates and speculation. The Central Bank of Russia also suspended publication of monthly information about Russian foreign trade in goods by the balance of payments method. The Central Dispatching Department of the Fuel and Energy Complex (CDU TEK), meanwhile, stopped providing statistics on oil production and exports.